By: Courtney Beam
Effective communication is a key skill that is critical to the success of an organization. Not only does it benefit external and internal client relationships, but it also impacts employee engagement and the overall success and effectiveness of a team. Here are a few tips to consider when focusing on your own communication skills.
Start with Listening: In order to be a successful communicator, it is critical to have good listening skills first. Maintaining eye contact, active listening and posture are all signs that you are actively engaged in a conversation. Communication is only effective when the listener and speaker leave with the same understanding. Poor listening can result in upset customers, the loss of a sale, an unsuccessful job interview, frustration, conflict, damaged relationships and more.
Consider What Tools You Use to Communicate With: It’s important to consider your end goal and audience when selecting the appropriate communication channel. Slack or instant messaging may be an appropriate channel for internal use among colleagues but would be inappropriate to use with clients or perhaps when addressing a performance issue with a direct report. Alternatively, if a long conversation is needed, email might not be the most effective communication channel. Use email and instant messaging for quick and easy communications and save detailed conversations for face-to-face interactions or phone calls.
Learn New Ways to Communicate: Step out of your comfort zone and increase your ability to communicate more effectively across a variety of platforms. If public speaking isn’t your strength, consider joining a public speaking forum such as Toastmasters. If you are asked to present information at a staff meeting, treat it like a public speaking event. If you fear networking events but struggle to increase your network, sign up for one or two networking events a month and make yourself go. The more practice you get at communicating when you are in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation, the easier it will become.
Consider How Others Prefer to Communicate: Do you have a colleague who asks a million questions in response before answering your original question? Perhaps you have a colleague who responds to your well-thought-out email with a one-word answer? It’s easy to be annoyed by others when they don’t communicate the way that we do. A successful communicator will use what they know about how others prefer to communicate and will adapt to their communication style. For example, if you are sending an email to your colleague who appreciates details, take an extra five minutes to include any extra information they may find helpful within your email. If you are working with a client who sends brief emails, keep your responses brief as well.
Be Well Informed: It’s important to “think before you speak” whether you are in the workplace or any other social setting. If you are unsure about a topic, research it enough to be able to make well-informed statements. If you are put on the spot about something you aren’t sure about, let the person know that their questions are important to you and that you would like a little bit of time to respond so you can make an informed decision. As a leader, you will be far more respected for communicating clearly than if you respond hastily or make a bad judgement because you simply weren’t informed.
What additional communication tips do you have? We’d love to hear them in the comments!